You don't need a science degree to be concerned about the future, and there is a grass-roots movement whose intent is to increase community resilience to a range of anticipated shocks including climate change, peak oil, and increasing scarcity of other essential resources including food and water. The movement is called 'Transition Towns', and there is a local group called 'Transition Ipswich', which recently ran a two-day training course sponsored by the Suffolk Climate Change Partnership. I was invited to attend on behalf of the Society by a colleague in the Borough Council's Environment Panel. Re-building community, re-discovering skills and re-localising supply are critical aims, alongside a managed decline in the consumption of fossil fuels and other limited natural resources.
The first day was concerned with "the outer world", presenting material on climate change and peak oil, the need for sustainability in other forms of natural resource such as water, food (particularly unmanaged fish stocks), minerals, oil and gas, land, soil and so on. Our present "industrial growth" model is based on a one-way flow of resources through consumption to waste at an exponentially increasing rate. When these resources are exhausted, how will future generations provide for themselves? Hence the need for sustainability, a radically different approach which follows natural cycles - starting with resources, through to consumption and back to resources, i.e. based on managing finite resources which can (and must) be renewed.
The second day covered "the inner world", considering how we have come to be in this situation, why the industrial growth model is so powerful, and what is our personal motivation for engaging instead with the transition model. Why are we so reluctant to recognise the impending catastrophes? Perhaps because our life-style based on cheap energy and consumerism is so compellingly brilliant? Why do we postpone any corrective action until the very last minute when serious failures begin to occur? Might these include the failure of markets and the global credit crunch, the increasingly hazardous exploitation of under-sea oil resources soon to be extended to the Arctic, the insecure supply of energy and other resources, increasingly wayward global weather patterns creating regional disasters, associated shortages of food and water, and ultimately mass migration from the expanding desert regions of the world?
Is this the world which we want to bequeath to future generations?
If not, and if you or other family members value your stake in the future, then try Transition Ipswich, which prefers an emphasis on family, community, celebration and fun. It is already actively involved in local projects such as bulk-buying solar PV units, the Maidenhall Community Orchard, the Oak Tree Community Supported Agriculture scheme and forest garden, and a Resilient Livelihoods social enterprise theme, soon to be augmented by a new Education theme. They would like to attract enthusiastic new participants to provide ideas, time and energy for initiatives to increase local resilience in Ipswich. If this sounds like the Big Society and the Localism agenda, that is almost certainly coincidental, but there may be benefits from synergy with current political thinking.
The website can be found at: http://www.transitionipswich.org.uk. And if you don't find out what you are looking for, maybe it is you who is missing!